College students learn lessons at High Cottton

Published 12:41 am Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Curried cream cheese spread followed by a summer salad with chicken, shaved Parmesan cheese and toasted walnuts. Sound good? You bet. Sound like a meal prepared by your college child? Not unless they were one of the ones who attended High Cotton’s Cooking for College Class last week.

Split into two groups, the 11 students came to learn basic kitchen skills and what to keep in their kitchen besides Ramen noodles and mac and cheese. Top on that list was rotisserie chicken from a grocery store.

“Bring your chicken home from the grocery store and let it sit for about an hour out on your cabinet,” said chef Karry Hosford told her group. “It will be too hot to pull the meat from the bones when you first buy it but it’s also harder to pull the meat off the bones if it has been refrigerated. It won’t take long to do it when the meat is close to room temperature and then you will have chicken ready to use for several meals.”

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This was one of many tips peppered throughout the class. Hosford showed the students how to use was ready-made rice made in the microwave, another convenience food. Student Caitlin Johnson had no trouble preparing the rice and having it ready to serve with another dish that Hosford was demonstrating.

As Hosford put together the red curry chicken over rice there were many skeptical looks from the students when she pulled the two of the main ingredients, unsweetened coconut milk and red curry paste. Those doubts were quickly dispelled when the students dipped their spoons into the sauce and gave it a try.

“One thing that I try to really get across to college students is that you can cook good food quickly and stay within your budget,” Hosford said. “I remember what it is like to have a college student’s budget. But they also have to learn to spend their money wisely on good ingredients.”

One of those items that Hosford was firm about was salad dressing. She impressed upon the students how important it was to read the ingredients on a bottle of dressing to find one that had the same ingredients as a homemade dressing and not a lot of preservatives.

She also reminded them, laughingly, that if they couldn’t remember when they bought the ingredient it probably wasn’t fit for consumption.

Several of the students stepped up to the stovetop to put together the chicken dish. One of those, Cody Bray, looked very comfortable with his skillet abilities, while others opted to watch.

When asked, many expressed that they knew a few dishes that they could already prepare. Mary Kate Byrne confided that she couldn’t make many dishes but one she can prepare is chicken tetrazzini.

On the other end of the kitchen, High Cotton owner, chef and Karry’s husband, Doug Hosford was also working with a group of college students and he also was adding tips in whenever he could.

“Ice cream is one of those items that you definitely get what you pay for,” said Hosford as he demonstrated how to prepare Caramel Apple Pie Parfait. “You want to look at the ingredients list and find one that has the same ingredients in it as if you were making it yourself, such as cream, vanilla and eggs.” This same dish provided him with a chance to demonstrate knife safety as he prepared the apples.

While grilling pork tenderloin Hosford taught the group how to use a meat thermometer and the proper temperature to cook the pork. Reminding the students not to cut into the meat as soon as it was done cooking was a tip any age chef could use.

“Letting your meat rest when it has finished cooking lets the juice in the meat redistribute from the center,” said Hosford. “Cutting into a hot piece of meat right off the grill or out of the oven will leave you with a plate full of juice and a dry piece of meat.”

In this group there were also students who had been cooking some at home. Nathan Leigh prepares stir-fry at home along with spaghetti. Deepy Singh expressed that she likes to cook but likes to have a recipe close at hand. Michael Scudiero prefers to grill, although he did say that he likes to prepare his mom’s recipe for rice balls.

Later, as the group sat down to their meal, many of them expressed their surprise how much they liked some of the dishes and how easy they were to prepare. They also voiced that they felt much more confident to not only try the dishes from the class but also to tackle a recipe on their own.

Red Curry Chicken over Rice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups rotisserie chicken meat, pulled from the bone

1/4 cup green onion, sliced

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 tablespoon red curry paste

1 8-ounce package Uncle Ben’s Long Grain Ready Rice, prepared according to package directions

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and green onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and curry paste; cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. When heated through, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice.

— Recipe courtesy of High Cotton

Caramel Apple Pie Parfait

2 Apples, peeled, cored and sliced into wedges

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 large graham crackers, crushed

16 ounces fat free caramel dip (such as T. Marzetti)

1 pint vanilla ice cream

Place the apple slices in a medium sized sauté pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender. In the bottom of two glasses place a thin layer of the crushed graham crackers, reserving 2 tablespoons for later use. Place one scoop of ice cream in each glass, followed by 1 / 4 of the apple mixture and then 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce.

Repeat the ice cream, apple and caramel layers and top with the reserved crushed graham crackers. Serve immediately or place in freezer to serve after dinner.

— Recipe courtesy of High Cotton